Tonight was a celebration of the greatest baseball team San Diego has ever seen: The 1998 Padres. The National League Champions went 98-64 thanks to names like Gwynn, Vaughn, and Brown, who were all in attendance. The atmosphere was charged, and after a sweep of the NL East leading Braves, it was hard not to expect a stunning performance by the home team. That kind of pressure can get to even the most seasoned of veterans. But not Eric Stults. No, he's the kind of guy that takes that pressure and redirects it at his opponent. In tonight's complete game shutout, he allowed just one run on two hits and a walk, lowering his ERA to 3.28. He even showed off a hot glove, picking up 6 assists, tying Randy Jones' record for most assists by a Padres pitcher in a 9 inning game.
At first, things didn't look so hot for Stults. With a full count, Gerardo Parra hit a leadoff double for the Diamondbacks. He advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored on Cody Ross's sacrifice fly. Down a run against a first place team right off the bat? You don't need to ask a Magic 8 Ball to know that's not a good start. But Stults didn't miss a beat.
The offense, on the other hand, seemed to be buckling under pressure. They had just four baserunners in the first five innings while striking out seven times. It looked like hometown kid Trevor Cahill was throwing a gem, too. He showed his cracks in the sixth, walking Alexi Amarista and hitting Chase Headley in the foot. Then Carlos Quentin singled to load the bases with nobody out. With a golden opportunity to score, Kyle Blanks came to the plate... and struck out. So did Will Venable. So it was with two outs that Logan Forsythe saved the day, delivering a line drive single to center field and scoring the only two runs the Padres would need.
Stults retired the side in order for the next two innings. After eight innings, he was at 94 pitches and had allowed just one hit, leaving fans to wonder if he would be replaced with the newly reactivated Huston Street. He wouldn't be. He took the mound in the 9th and struck out Parra on three pitches. Willie Bloomquist finally figured out his curveball to pick up Arizona's second hit of the night. Stults continued unfazed, getting the final two outs with just two pitches. It was the third complete game of his career, and his first since May 9, 2009. And it was pure magic.
33 - 34
|Final - 6.14.2013||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|San Diego Padres||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||X||2||5||1|
|WP: Eric Stults (6 - 5)
LP: Trevor Cahill (3 - 8)